WASHINGTON, June 9, 2009 — The World Bank Group's Integrity Vice Presidency (INT) made significant headway in the fight against corruption during Fiscal Year 2008, a new report released by the Bank says.
World Bank President Robert Zoellick said, "Around the world the countries we work with are seeking the World Bank's help in preventing corruption. To do so we must continually upgrade our instruments, partnerships and approaches. This is core development work and I am pleased by the progress we are making."
INT closed 243 investigations and completed a large-scale review of projects in India's health sector while simultaneously implementing the 18 recommendations of the Independent Review Panel (Volcker Panel), headed by former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker. According to the report, "Protecting Development's Potential: Fiscal Year 2008 Annual Integrity Report," the implementation of the Volcker Panel recommendations already has begun to dramatically improve the unit's value to the Bank and the Bank's ability to ensure that funds reach their intended beneficiaries. INT investigates allegations of fraud and corruption in Bank Group-supported activities as well as allegations of significant fraud or corruption involving Bank staff.
"I am naturally gratified that the World Bank has adopted the recommendations of the Advisory Panel I chaired. Experience in the last few years has only re-emphasized the importance of dealing with corrupt practices around the world," said Mr. Volcker.
As a result of the Volcker Panel recommendations, INT now has an early warning system so that information gathered during investigations helps operational Bank staff make informed decisions about affected projects. The new Preventive Services Unit helps raise awareness of fraud and corruption risks; provides practical tools, training and advice to Bank staff; and conducts research to distill lessons learned from investigations that are incorporated into future projects. With its Independent Advisory Board actively in place and the ongoing publication of redacted investigative reports on its website, INT has further increased its accountability structure and transparency.
The report also describes how the Bank holds wrongdoers accountable for fraud and corruption through the debarment of firms and individuals. "The World Bank continues to take a strong stand against those who misuse funds intended for the poorest," said INT Vice President Leonard McCarthy. "Already in FY09 we've achieved significant results, with four times the number of debarments we had in FY08."
Information about INT's full caseload — with statistics on trends in allegations, reporting and investigative outcomes — can be found in the report along with the Volcker Panel recommendations. The report is currently available in its entirety in English, Spanish, French, Chinese and Arabic at http://www.worldbank.org/integrity.